Are you a perfectionist or have perfectionist tendencies? My name is Freedom and I’m a perfectionist. Once a perfectionist always a perfectionist. I’m definitely not proud of being a perfectionist.
In recent years I have learned how being a perfectionist was holding me back and how many other gifted people are stuck from moving forward in their lives because of it.
As a child I was taught to be perfect. Later in life, I was told that we need to practice to be almost perfect. Then later, later in life, I learned that being perfect was actually unhealthy. Uh-oh I said to myself.
If you were born in a family like mine, where you were taught that anything less than perfect was not appreciated, then you might want to stick around to learn the process of untangling yourself from this mental block.
Being imperfect in a world that admires perfection can cause confusion and even lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. I remember before my college years, I was doing everything my parents expected of an almost perfect girl. Honor student through high school. On my first two years of college though, I failed badly.
In high school I was in a science program. Everyone in this program would just talk about how success is defined by the career of science. Although my parents never forced me to choose a science major in college, I knew how happy and proud they were that I chose this path.
Failing my first years of college shook my perfectionist belief, ego, and hopes for a better future, and created a view of myself of being impotent to meet the criteria of this path. After trying so hard to do well in my science courses, and being super bored in the lab classes, I found myself at the end of my sophomore year with a deep clinical depression.
Science was certainly not my path and now I can clearly understand why it didn’t work out.
My imperfections of experiencing depression and failing in college lead me to become an advocate for mental health, transferred to a different university where I met wonderful friends and double majored in academic areas of my interest, which helped me become a psychotherapist and now, a success coach.
How do you think your imperfect self has helped you become the person you are now?
Remember when I told you once a perfectionist always a perfectionist? Well, I want to share with you five steps you can practice to stop perfectionism from ruining your day.
Step 1. Awareness. Practice becoming aware when experiencing perfectionism. Perfectionist people like myself like to control almost everything in their lives. I catch myself several times when I am wasting time making a project perfect and not delivering it on time.
Whether you are writing a book, making a website, dancing, etc, yes practice means perfect but if you haven’t published the book, or shared your website, or haven’t performed on the stage because you’re afraid that your dance is not perfect enough, then perfectionism is paralyzing you. This goes for everyone.
Step 2. Ask yourself “What feelings is perfectionism creating inside me?” In my case it tends to cause me anxiety and frustration.
Step 3. Next question to ask yourself “How Are These Feelings Serving Me?
Step 4. Take a time out. Reach out for support, go out for a walk, practice yoga in your office or at home, meditate. By doing even 20 minutes of yoga, it helps you tune more on your body and remind you that life is more than the thoughts inside your head.
When I don’t have much time, I practice breathing meditation. It reminds that I’m a spiritual being experiencing a human life. A wise yogi master once shared with me, what his guru told him “give your 80% and trust the 20% will come from the universe” Otherwise everything has control of me.
Step 5. Create your own mantra. A mantra or affirmation can help you remind yourself to let go. When I feel anxious because of my perfectionist mentality, I repeat to myself:
“I let go of anything that no longer serves me” or “the universe has my back.”
So how do we succeed in life without perfectionism and his cousin competition? By letting go of having control, you expand your options, your opportunities. It helps you shift from a narrow vision to a wider perspective that you might have never even considered.
After shifting majors and later careers, my eyes were not longer seeing a narrow path of becoming successful by only becoming a scientist or doctor. Instead, I saw a path to success where i was doing and learning from things that made me smile and feel passionate about my work.
When my clients feel satisfied and grateful, my work is very much appreciated because I have given my service from a sense of purpose and not ambition.
Competition is an erroneous way of thinking that society has created, and it comes from a state of fear. Fortunately, we are now learning how great leaders succeed in their fields through generosity, compassion and sharing their imperfect past.
What if you have a bully for a boss? You know those that expect you to work over time, and be the perfect employee by forgetting that you also have a personal life? Then my answer is practice self compassion. Through self compassion you become your own advocate.
Self compassion can lead you to decisions that can expand your opportunities and fully allow the universe to hold your back. Self compassion is one of my greatest tools in life.
Here is a quote that inspired me to discuss further this topic.
“Do you want to be a host to God or a hostage to your ego?” - Dr. Wayne Dyer.
You got this,